An Apprentice Welcoming Culture

Stephen Mansfield tells about an African bishop describing what churches were doing in a difficult part of Africa. After the sermon-report, the bishop was asked why things he described were not happening in this country.

“Here is the reason…you Americans study your God. We Africans worship ours. You get smarter. We get changed. And then we change the world around us.

“By doing rather than merely studying, we create a culture. Newcomers and the young feed on that culture. They watch. They do. They, too, are changed. Our culture expands. You Americans create a system of thought. The most you ask is that people contemplate new ideas. You might ask them to give or to sometimes attend meetings, but no contagious culture is created. Nothing is offered to newcomers and the young but thoughts. So they think. They don’t do.”     (Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men. Nelson Books 2013)

I don’t know when that was said. It is overstated and generalized, but on target or fairly close.

 “We are changed. We craft a contagious culture. People feed on this culture and change the world.”

That is stimulating and motivating. Leading edge business people and pastoral-entrepreneurs talk a lot about establishing and maintaining their specific culture. A. R. Bernard is the founder, Senior Pastor and CEO of Christian Cultural Center (CCC) located in Brooklyn, New York. The church includes about 40,000 members. When the church was established, Bernard challenged them to include the word “culture” in the name. He was not establishing an art center; he was calling forth people who would inculcate and spread the New Testament culture.

Jeff Goins is a writer, blogger, podcaster, entrepreneur. His book, The Art of Work is one of the best on work, calling and vocation. The subtitle: “A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do.” The best part of the book (for me) is his discussion on apprenticeship and the place of guilds in an earlier century. If a person wanted to pursue a craft, they joined themselves to a mentor-teacher. They became an apprentice and then a journeyman working to become a master.

“Atelier” is a French word meaning “workshop.” In the Middle Ages, these workshops were where artists watched and were taught by applying what they had observed. They were in a distinct culture. The idea of “Atelier” has guided me through my Southwood series and Quest House thinking. Inspiring spiritual curiosity, building places of examination and questioning, making room for risking, trying and repair.

I heard this weekend:

  • If you want to increase your faith, get around people of faith.
  • If we were going to stop living poor, we had to change our thinking.
  • You will pursue the anointing of the person whose anointing you most admire.

All of that is accomplished in specific cultures. Every organization has its own culture. Some are destructive, some ruthlessly guard the status quo, while others celebrate people and risking and practicing correctly.

“A good apprenticeship isn’t about an exchange of information; it’s about passing on the skill of the master and multiplying it.” Jeff Goins The Art of Work (Nelson Books, 2015).

In the 1700s, Arthur Guinness laid out his Five Pillars of Success. The first is, “Discern the ways of God and business,” which sounds a lot like “Find what God is doing and join Him.” If I correctly read the times, the campaign of Bernie Sanders indicates a desire to be part of a movement that makes a difference.

In my book Carafe Conspiracy, an Atelier is built at Southwood. It has several suites where apprenticeship happens. Where does God seem to be calling people to become equipped to live their own lives but to grow into journeymen and masters?

  •  Purpose
  • Fathering
  • Marriage/divorce/children of divorce
  • Healing of shame and wounds.
  • Healing of depression, anxiety—learning and using good coping skills
  • Finances—how to: make as much as you can, save as much as you can, give as much as you can.
  • How to make a difference

There are several suites in that Southwood building. We have space available. If the culture was guided by affirmation and validation what skill/ability  would you add? Because you needed to learn? Because you have an idea? Because your heart beats faster when you think about the difference your knowledge could make?

“Are you raising great kids or raising kids to be great adults?” Andy Andrews. Who are you including in your tribe who can help you be all you want your life to be? Mentors, apprentices, journeymen, masters?

©2016  D. Dean Benton—writer & wonderer


Twitter:       @DeanBenton





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